Brisbane City Council is currently undertaking public consultation until 9 September 2019 for proposed amendments to its Service Station code within the Brisbane City Plan. The changes will provide increased controls to manage the interface between service stations and ‘sensitive uses’, most notably around air emissions and stormwater management.

A link to the proposed amendments can be found here:

In addition to the Service Station code, the changes to council’s air quality and stormwater management policy will also relate more broadly to wider forms of industrial development, including the storage of hazardous materials.

Summary of Proposed Changes

The proposed amendments are more a tightening of certain policy elements as opposed to any sweeping / wholesale changes in policy direction. From a Queensland perspective, other councils often follow the policy directions that Brisbane City Council undertake. It is therefore important to fully understand the proposed changes with potential wider adoption down the track.

Council’s own summary of the proposed amendments is as follows:

  • clarify the existing requirement for service station development to avoid or minimise fuel vapour emissions, in addition to ensuring air quality criteria are met
  • refine assessment criteria for visual amenity, noise, health and wellbeing to enable improved outcomes for service station development, particularly in Centre zones and near residential uses
  • enable service stations and industrial development to use new technologies for stormwater quality protection.

These are discussed in further detail in the sections below.

Visual Amenity

The proposed changes now provide more specific commentary around the screening of mechanical plant and equipment from both any public space or adjoining residential use.
In our experience, the majority of new suburban service stations are generally designed to provide some form of screening to plant and equipment, particularly from public vantage points. However, additional requirements around screening from residential areas may result in more challenging screening requirements where for example a constrained site may require equipment to be located on top of the roof of the building.

Stormwater Treatment

There is an additional policy provision in the code which now deals specifically with spill management and stormwater treatment systems over ‘uncovered forecourt areas’ with a new table of stormwater criteria provided.
The outcome of this new table of criteria is that the first flush of the uncovered forecourt area will be required to satisfy the same treatment criteria of the fuel dispensing areas, namely:

  • <5ppm (mg/L) total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH)
  • ≥80% reduction in total suspended solids (TSS)
  • ≥90% reduction in gross pollutants (GP)

For new applications, were these changes to be adopted, many current treatment systems over uncovered forecourt areas would fail to meet the above criteria. Noting for new applications only and not applied retrospectively.

Air Quality

The section of the code around air quality is proposed to be updated to include more direct reference to the provision of Stage 2 Vapour Recovery. Currently, the relevant performance criteria has a fairly broad interpretation that amenity to sensitive uses is ‘maintained’ through (in part) the installation of ‘vapour recovery systems’. This wording is proposed to be updated with more direct wording around ‘avoids or minimises air emissions through the installation of Stage 1 and Stage 2 vapour recovery systems’.

In our opinion, it would therefore be more difficult to argue against the provision of Stage 1 and 2 vapour recovery where in close proximity to sensitive uses.

The policy also provides clearer reference not just to the protection of sensitive zones, but also sensitive uses within the rural zone. This would give more weight to residential premises within rural zones that previously may have been afforded a lesser degree of amenity protection where located along a busy road or in close proximity to uses of a non-rural nature.

The opportunity for public comment closes at 5pm – 9 September 2019. For queries in relation to the above proposed amendments, please contact John Rowell who would be happy to discuss further.

Telephone – 1300 794 300
Email –
Website –

Ready to discuss your project?